Work for the future

Burnt Bridge Creek Greenway Trail is a perfect family outing

Family Biking

photo by claire beagle

I am a little ashamed to admit that I lived on Vancouver’s west side for years before I “discovered” the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail. And to keep that from happening to you, I wanted to feature it here. We stroll the beautiful west end, starting at the Stewart Glen Trailhead on Fruit Valley Road in full view of the creek ready to open to Vancouver Lake. We walk toward Kiggins Bowl, usually stopping at the grass bottomland just short of Main Street.

My kids are very small but even they love it, locating leaves just the size of their hands and learning about how fallen trees feed whole forests. There are a few trails that lead up off the path, great for exploring further, and cyclists, strollers, skateboarders and joggers to cooperate with. Native species flourish here, as do invasive plants, and some vandalists, unfortunately, but as Carlos Ocejo, maintenance worker lead for Greenway sensitive lands, says, “there are all kinds of teachable moments here.” He volunteers on the Greenway with his kids and encourages others to do the same.

The eight-mile hard-surfaced shared-use trail follows the creek from Northwest Bernie Road to the developing jewel Leverich Park, then through the forests and grasslands of Arnold Park, past State Route 500, on to Meadow Homes Park, and it ends just west of Northeast 90th Avenue and Burton Road.

There are parking lots dedicated for Greenway users and several kinds of facilities along the way, including seasonal restrooms, event spaces, disc golf, sports fields and a track at Kiggins Bowl.

The trail includes bottom and upper lands and so “there is a lot of plant variety throughout the whole trail,” said Ocejo, and a diverse tree canopy. Trail users will find a mix of deciduous, conifers and evergreen trees along with native species such as ninebark, Indian plum, spirea, red currant and thimbleberry.

Reed canarygrass is among the biggest trouble makers in this riparian zone trail, especially in the section starting at 65th Avenue and 18th Street. Ocejo’s crew is exploring several chemical free ways of eradicating the plant and have had some success on this stretch of the trail. The grass seed can live for 100 years, so it poses a special threat. Methods to discourage reed canarygrass include dense planting of native species and tilling a field of it and covering it with plastic. The crew has even looked at using goats.

When Ocejo talks about taking a job on the Greenway, his sentiments echo mine exactly: “I wanted to be here. It seems like work for the future.”

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